Elementary school educators shop for classes

Published 10:09 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

FRANKLIN—Wal-Mart has given $100 gift cards to 10 teachers from S.P. Morton Elementary School for classroom supplies, part of the retailer’s new Teacher Rewards Program to provide more than $4 million to 40,000 teachers across the nation.

The 10 teachers who received the gift cards are Chrissy Ortiz, Benjenecia Dildy, Melissa Mabry, Liz Burgess, Ellen Lee, Pat Rideout, Karen Futrell, Clarissa Blunt, Nicole Greene and Kimberly Dodson.

“I think it’s extremely generous of Wal-Mart to do this,” said school principal Donald Spengeman. “They are really very nice school business partners, and they are very helpful to us. We’re very fortunate in Franklin.”

In a written statement, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer cited figures from the American Federation of Teachers that said teachers spend, on average, “more than $500 a year out of their own pockets for classroom supplies.”

“Statistics like these inspire Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club associates to continue supporting education and teacher recognition in their local communities,” the company said.

Wal-Mart previously had a Teacher of the Year program, where one teacher was awarded $1,000.

“Wal-Mart and the associates of Franklin are very happy that we could do this for the local community, for the local schools, and we plan to do this and more in the future,” said Larry Smith, store manager for the Franklin Wal-Mart.

Dildy, a kindergarten teacher at the school, had tape, crayons, a pencil sharpener, disinfecting wipes, post-it notes and tissues in her cart on Monday.

“I (usually) have to go out and get them (myself),” Dildy said. “This time of year, with the characteristics that come with fall, a lot of kids are sneezing and coughing. We want to try and keep a good, healthy, functioning classroom, and make sure children have good hygiene practices. We want to keep the classroom clean, and these wipes help keep the classroom sanitized.”

Futrell, who teaches third grade, was also busily finding supplies.

“I’m getting some things for the kids, and some things we need for the classroom,” said Futrell. “It’s flu season, so we’ll need some hand sanitizer. I’m also getting some supplies, like folders, for those (kids) who may be short one.”